Although many healthcare providers were initially slow to implement electronic record-keeping and digital connectivity solutions, attributing the lag to unwieldy legacy systems, massive filing systems and prohibitive costs, indications are that this trend has reversed. There are many benefits of electronic health records (EHRs) for both medical facilities and patients, including better data interoperability, which can enable easier patient information sharing within a medical facility and between different care providers. This can ensure that any doctor treating the patient can have up-to-date information about existing conditions and possible complications.
EHRs also optimize the use of mobile devices and connectivity by doctors, which improves the efficacy of remote medical care for rural and underserved areas. Specialists in other locales can offer expert insights, conduct examinations and even help guide surgery and other treatments. EHRs also cut down on spending – one study found that EHRs could cut down on outpatient care costs by 3 percent. Reducing costs without sacrificing quality of care is essential for healthcare providers, and being able to devote more resources toward actual patient care, rather than record-keeping, can improve the effectiveness of treatment. More than 50 percent of U.S. healthcare providers, as well as more than 80 percent of hospitals, utilize EHRs to improve patient care and internal operations.
Security concerns still linger
While there are clear advantages to EHR adoption, and these benefits are so readily apparent that most healthcare facilities have begun to use them, questions about data security still remain. In many respects, keeping information digitized is the safer option, especially for such massive filing systems as healthcare requires. EHRs are better insulated than traditional filing systems against physical disasters, for instance, and also better protected against the sorts of human errors, like misplaced or wrongly filed reports, that can be tragic in a medical context.
Healthcare providers must contend with a host of data-based security issues. Internet connectivity has the unfortunate side effect of hackers waiting for an opportunity to strike. There are many items in medical records, from patient financial and social security information to potentially embarrassing medical issues, which could appeal to cybercriminals. Additionally, poorly protected data could complicate insurance, access to social care and employment, if patient confidentiality is breached. Application control is essential for medical facilities that need to maintain access and interoperability while confronting the realities of data vulnerability in the digital world.